When a married couple with minor children decide to legally separate, just as with divorce, their obligations to their minor children continue. Child support is the area that addresses the legal obligation of a parent to contribute financially to the other parent for child-rearing.
Legal separation and child support
Most states have guidelines when it comes to determining child support obligations. In the event your state recognizes legal separation, there is a chance that one of the spouse’s will be required to pay child support during the period of legal separation. This may be a matter of a legal separation agreement made between the spouses or a court order.
To help clarify child support, think of it like this when you were married and lived together, you and your spouse supported the child together. Now that you are legally separating, one parent will have the main responsibility for the child’s day to day needs and the other parent is expected to help out with the subsequent expenses.
Whether child support is ordered by the court or is agreed to by the separating parties, it is required to be paid as long as the child is a dependent, thus under the age of 18 years. There are some situations that may extend the age above 18, such as the child having a disability or illness or they are still going to school full-time.
When it comes to determining the amount of child support that will be paid by the noncustodial parent, each state has guidelines that are used to calculate the range of support to be paid. This tends to be based upon the income and expenses of both parents. Since states have the ability to set their guidelines, how calculations are determined varies.
In light of this, there are some factors that must be considered by the court including:
- The ability to take care of child support payments
- The child’s standard of living prior to the divorce or separation.
- The income and expenses of the custodial parent.
- The needs of the child.
Another factor that may influence the amount of child support is the amount of time the child will spend with each parent. For instance, in a joint physical custody scenario, the child may be in the care of the custodial parent sixty percent of the time and with the noncustodial parent the other forty percent of the time. Thus, the calculation may take into account the incomes, expenses and amount of time with each parent.